Monday, February 24, 2020

On January 5, TABC competed in the Randolph JV wrestling tournament along with 28 other teams and over 420 wrestlers. Also participating were wrestlers from Kushner HS. Observant Jewish wrestlers have become a common sight at this and other wrestling tournaments and their presence has had a profound impact.

TABC’s four wrestlers—captain Mikey Schwartz, Ari Gross, Max Balk and Gedalia Akselrod—each won at least one match during the day and Schwartz and Akselrod advanced to the quarter finals.

Yeshiva high school wrestlers typically compete against public schools and Catholic schools throughout the season. As a result of years of TABC’s participation, establishment wrestling programs realize the contribution of the yeshiva teams. Tournament directors often work to accommodate scheduling as tournaments are moved from Saturday to Sunday. Athletic directors want to include yeshiva teams in their schedules because of the quality of the competition. In fact, at a recent tournament, food organizers went to the effort to provide a kosher option for the coaches.

As our community debates the response and future course of action to confront the increasing hatred and anti-Semitic attacks, it’s helpful to appreciate the value of non-Jews seeing Jewish warriors in action. A former wrestling coach at Frisch High School for over 10 years, has experienced this impact first hand. On a number of occasions he has bumped into former public school wrestlers and coaches who remembered Frisch wrestlers and mentioned how tough they were.

During the Randolph tournament, when they weren’t wrestling, the young men could be seen walking proudly amongst the other wrestlers while wearing their kippot. At the end of the day, the wrestlers from TABC and Kushner found a spot in the building and davened Mincha.

The schools are proud of the competitive results of their wrestlers but even more, they are moved by the positive impact all of the yeshiva wrestlers have on the many public school and catholic school wrestlers, coaches and parents in our community. It’s important others empathize with us but perhaps it’s more important they respect us.